Construction of a £27 million windfarm on Lewis on Lewis is finally due to get underway some 11 years after the project was first mooted.
The Pentland Road Windfarm has received a massive loan from the Co-operative Bank to build six huge turbines on crofters’ rough grazings, two miles west of Stornoway.
The scheme, sited by protected moorland and golden eagles, was in limbo for much of the past decade due to objections from air traffic control and aviation bodies.
At one point a public inquiry was due to be held but negotiations between the developer and National Air Traffic Services, Highlands and Islands Airports which operates Stornoway Airport and the Civil Aviation Authority eventually sorted out the dispute.
SSE Power Distribution will install an underground cable to connect the new wind farm control building to the main Stornoway sub-station at Marybank.
Peter Crone, director of Pentland Road Windfarm Ltd, said: “This wind farm is a landmark project not just for the Western Isles but for wind technology itself.
“It will be the first time a project as large as this has been installed in such a remote and weak electricity network.”
Pentland and German manufacturer Enercon are both confident that the 18MW scheme, when completed, will not only operate successfully but will actually help to stabilise the island network as a whole, allowing other community owned wind turbines to follow.
The wind farm will be connected to the existing Lewis and Harris grid and will be completed in early 2013, more than two years ahead of the proposed subsea cable link with the Scottish mainland which is due to be installed in 2015.
A number of crofters who took out apportionments – an exclusive parcel of land – from the grazings have reversed the process in recent weeks and are now entitled to lucrative financial benefit from the energy scheme.
The turbines will be built on land used by Knock and Swordale crofters. Though some ten miles from the villages and on the other side of Stornoway, the land was used due to the lack of summer pasture in the Point area of the island.